Review: Fairies and witches and giants, oh my! | TheUnion.com

Review: Fairies and witches and giants, oh my!

by Hindi Greenberg
Special to Prospector
Loki White as Thistlethorn Witherwand, the evil uncle who kidnaps his nieces in Paul Emery Presents "Make Believe."
Photo by Douglas Hooper

If you believe in magic—and even if you don’t—Dalrymple MacAlpin’s musical fantasy, “Make Believe,” will take you to an alternate world through story, music, singing, dancing and costume. Both adults and children will enjoy the world premiere of this play, which contains wondrous music, magic and conjuring, beguiling characters and suspension of disbelief.

Produced by Paul Emery, this “archetypal musical theater fairytale” is an original play written, scored and directed by MacAlpin, who plays several instruments in the on-stage, nine person orchestra and both sings and narrates with his lovely voice and persona; he is quite a talent.

The nine musicians play almost twenty different instruments, from harp to glockenspiel to bassoon to timpani, creating an ethereal, mystical, tuneful sound, interspersed with dissonance and strange harmonies. The music wonderfully illuminates this story about good versus evil, light versus darkness, where a loving fairy sister’s evil twin brother kidnaps her six daughters and transports them into an alternate universe. The story is about the mother’s search for her children and, through magic, her ultimate reunion with them, using giants, witches and other fantastics to return them home.

Kids will love the outrageous characters and antics while adults will appreciate the language, music and singing, as well as the depth of meaning in the story. I sat next to a four-year-old girl who was entranced throughout the show, as were her parents.

The actors are uniformly good, whether invoking their characters or singing and dancing. Each of the daughters — Bali Cloutman, Ura Frykdahl, Edda Frykdahl, Sadhira Williams, Fiona Baker and Etta B. Stewart, and from seven-to-fifteen years old — is well-cast and does an exceptional job. Additionally noteworthy is Dawn McCarthy as the grieving mother—her voice is a revelation; and Leonna Sapphire as Agnes Pumpernickel, the gas-passing keeper of the orphanage where the children are placed by their evil uncle, Thistlethorn Willowand, played with wicked relish by Loki White, who also plays the orphanage’s gardener, Alfred Abernathy, an identity he assumes so he can spy on the daughters.

The simple yet evocative set is designed by the always creative Pam Hodges, with imaginative lighting by Tom Taylor and Stephanie Moelman and inventive sound design by Ben Milner.

Jill Kelly uses her skill and innovation to design the amazing costumes for both the human characters and the make believe ones, highlighted with Reinnette Senum’s makeup. Dance choreography was well-designed and implemented by Alayna Stroud.

I spent the entire production in a reverie of music, magic and creativity. Some things can be appreciated by all age groups and this play is one of them. Treat a child or a senior or anyone at all to this magical, musical, well-acted production and they will thank you.

“Make Believe” continues at the Nevada Theatre only through Feb. 3.

Hindi Greenberg isn’t usually very interested in fantasy—she’s too much of a realist, except for her fear of monsters and aliens—but really liked this play, its music and its various surprises.


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